Jim McBurney played his major junior hockey for the Galt Blackhawks, beginning in 1951-52. He had a strong offensive year, scoring 35 goals and 66 points in 47 games. He followed that up with a 61-goal, 96-point effort in his final year of junior.
The NHL's Chicago Blackhawks were impressed by McBurney's offensive talents and called him up for one game during the 1952-53 season. Surprisingly, he was never recalled and played six years of semi-pro hockey with the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds, first of the NOHA and then the OHA Senior A league.